Virginia Governor refuses to resign, backtracks on apology

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Virginia Governor refuses to resign, backtracks on apology
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Virginia Governor refuses to resign, backtracks on apology
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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has been facing calls for his resignation from both sides of the political aisle. A racist photo from Northam’s yearbook recently surfaced, depicting someone in blackface drinking beer with another person in a KKK robe. Northam apologized for the photo yesterday, admitting he was one of the individuals in the picture, but the governor claimed earlier today that he does not believe he is one of the people in the photograph.

The photo appeared on Northam’s page in his 1984 medical school yearbook. In addition to claiming he does not believe he appears in the photo, Northam is now alleging he did not submit the photograph to the yearbook’s staff. The governor has also said that he did not purchase the yearbook, and was unaware of the photograph until it was uncovered by the press.

Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas seemed unimpressed with the governor’s response to the controversy. Earlier today, in response to Northam’s revised statements about the photo, Lucas responded, “He should have said that yesterday.” Lucas went on to call the governor’s amended comments “a day late and a dollar short.”

The Virginia State Senator wasn’t the Democrat to strongly condemn the governor. Each of the high-profile Democratic candidates to have announced their 2020 presidential run have called for Northam’s resignation. Earlier today, DNC Chair Tom Perez called for Northam’s resignation.

Republicans have also responded to the controversy. Rob Whittman, a Republican representing Virginia’s 1st congressional district in the US House of Representatives, has called on Governor Northam to resign. CNN has also been a target of Republicans throughout the controversy, as they incorrectly labeled Northam as a Republican during their coverage of the story yesterday.

During his press conference today, Northam raised even more controversy when he made statements regarding a 1984 dance party. Although Northam is now claiming he was not one of the individuals in the yearbook photo, he did enter a 1984 dance contest dressed in blackface as Michael Jackson. During the press conference, Northam was asked if he could still “moonwalk.” It appeared for a moment the governor might attempt to demonstrate the dance move, before his wife strongly advised against it.

If Governor Northam resigns, Lt Governor Justin Fairfax will take over the position. If Northam refuses to resign, Virginia law potentially allows for the courts to remove him following a petition from the voters. However, it would be the first time in Virginia history that a governor was removed through this process. There is also a hotly contested debate as to whether the law applies to behavior before the governor’s inauguration or only to behavior during the governor’s time in office.

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